It is a well-known fact that a general who is discharged from the IDF downs a cup of poison to instantly turn into an anti-Jewish leftist, at least according to the sages of the current ruling party.

Well, that’s not the case with me.

I am still an Israeli patriot who loves his country from head to toe, but fears for the country’s future and the direction to which it is being driven by the ultra-nationalist right. I served in the IDF for dozens of years, from the time I joined the Military Boarding School in Haifa at 14 until I was discharged as Commander of the Central Command.

In its four years in power, the most right-wing government in Israel’s history has not seen it fit to revoke the Oslo Accords and annex the West Bank. The question is why. Apparently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands the local and international implications of such a move and therefore refrains from executing it. But he seems to have abandoned his caution due to some other considerations, leading him to promise annexation during the last election campaign and to discuss it while trying to form the next government.

At this stage, annexing the West Bank to Israel  without an agreement with the Palestinian Authority is liable to bring about the end of the Zionist vision of a democratic Jewish State of Israel. No less. When it comes to annexation, there is no picking and choosing. Even the annexation of Area C “only”, as proposed by Bennett and his former party, or “only” of the Jewish settlements as advocated by the Likud, or any other such scheme, would inevitably lead to the annexation of all of the West Bank, and much quicker than we may anticipate at that.

We must not forget that on the other side is a people who expects and hopes for something completely different. Will it sit still?  I don’t think so. The security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will come to a halt, the Palestinian Authority will collapse,  and the IDF will need to redeploy across the entire area. As a result, the following will occur:

The State of Israel will be responsible for the daily lives of 2.6 million Palestinians, with all the implications this entails: From dozens of billions of shekels per year that will come out of the state budget (since the countries currently donating to the Palestinian Authority will not continue to do so with Israel in control) for Palestinian education, health services, sewage systems and so on. We will no longer be able to bury our heads in the sand and will need to come to a decision whether or not to award them equal rights.

Whatever we decide, it will mark the end of the Zionist dream.

If full equality is instituted, we will have a Knesset with more than 40 Arab members. The significance is clear. If we annex without granting equal rights, namely – the Palestinians will be second class citizens, we will no longer be viewed by the international community as a democracy, and we can learn what the consequences of this could mean by recalling the South African experience.

I will say it outright: There is no way we can both annex the territories and maintain the democratic Jewish State of Israel we know and want: In the event of annexation, we will become a beleaguered bi-national state, which will quickly have a Muslim Arab majority.

This is not an intimidation by generals who use their ranks for political purposes. This is a statement made by senior commanders with thousands of cumulative years of service in the IDF and the other security services of the State of Israel. This is a statement made by those who fought and risked their lives for the security of our beloved country. We do not hide, nor do we write anonymously. We are pointing at what might happen here based on our experience and on a comprehensive study – conducted jointly with the best experts in the field – which the government has thus far failed to undertake.

We speak from the bottom of our hearts. Do not let the vote-mongers mislead you. No matter how much they will smear us and spread lies about us, we are only after the good of the Country.

The people  must demand that its government be serious and careful when deciding about this important issue, and – at the very least – demand that the various state entities present the government with the implications of such a decision and bring them to the attention of the public, most of which (including Likud voters) opposes annexation.

This article was originally published in Hebrew in Yisrael Hayom